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How are investments taxed?

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You may have to pay extra tax if you make money from your investments. Here we look at how much tax you will pay on money you make from investments based on your tax band.
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Important: The information on this page is based on UK regulations for the 2020/2021 tax year.

If you’re new to investing, or you’ve been doing it for years, it’s important to be on top of the tax you may have to pay. The amount due depends on the amount you’re investing, your income, and what you’re investing your money in. There are ways to reduce the tax you pay, such as by using an ISA which is free from most tax. Here we look at the different types of tax due on investments and the annual tax-free limits to take advantage of.

Do you pay tax on stock trading?

How much income tax you pay depends on your personal allowance. This is your starting rate for savings and your personal savings allowance.

Personal allowance

The money you earn through your interest, wages, pension or in other ways is tax-free up to an annual limit of £12,500.

Make the most of your tax-free ISA.

Starting rate for savings

The starting rate for savings will not apply to you if your other income is £17,500 or more a year.

If you earn under £17,500 in other (non-interest) income, you will qualify for a starting rate for savings. 

This provides an initial buffer before you begin to eat into your personal savings allowance. It is currently set at £5,000 for the 2020/21 tax year.

For every £1 you earn from other income over the personal allowance of £12,500, your starting rate for savings decreases by £1.

That means if you earn £12,500 from other income, your savings income will not eat into your personal savings allowance unless it exceeds £5,000.

If you earn £15,000 per year from other income, your starting rate for savings will be £2,500.

Personal savings allowance

If your standard income is more than £17,499 or your income from savings exceeds your starting rate, you will only have to pay tax on your savings income if it exceeds your personal savings allowance and your total income exceeds your personal allowance.

Your personal savings allowance depends on your income tax band.

Updated 17 December 2021
Income Tax bandPersonal Savings Allowance
Basic rate£1000
Higher rate£500
Additional rate£0

Capital gains tax

When it comes to tax on stock trading, UK capital gains tax (CGT) might need to be paid. If the profit you make when you sell your shares or investments exceeds £12,300, you will pay CGT on the additional profits.

If you are a higher or additional rate taxpayer you will pay 28% CGT on your gains from residential property and 20% on your gains from other chargeable assets.

If you are a basic rate taxpayer you will pay 10% CGT on your profits over £12,300. If your profits take your total earnings into the next tax rate, you will pay 28% CGT on your gains from residential property and 20% on your gains from other chargeable assets on the amount you are over the basic tax bracket.

You do not need to pay CGT if:

  • The profit you make comes from a stocks and shares ISA

  • You have gains from ISAs or PEPs, UK government gilts, premium bonds, or betting, lottery or pool winnings

  • You give or sell shares to your spouse or civil partner unless you have separated and have not lived together during the same tax year

You do pay CGT on any profit you make from selling or getting rid of:

  • Personal possessions worth over £6,000, excluding your car

  • Property that is not your main home

  • Your main home if you have let it out, used it for business, or it’s very large

  • Shares that aren’t in an ISA or PEP

  • Business assets

  • Legal currency - sales of gold or silver sovereigns are CGT-free, for example, while sales of gold or silver bars are not

Visit gov.uk for more information on capital gains tax

Dividend tax

A dividend tax may also apply to tax on stock trading in the UK. You do not pay tax on any dividend income that falls within your Personal Allowance though, which is the amount of income you can earn each year without paying tax.

You also have an annual tax-free dividend allowance of £2,000.

Any dividends that exceed your allowance will have dividend tax deducted based on the tax band you fall into:

Updated 17 December 2021
Tax bandDividend tax
Basic rate7.5%
Higher rate32.5%
Additional rate38.1%

Visit gov.uk for more information on dividend tax

Stamp duty on shares

This is a tax you pay when you buy shares. Stamp duty is calculated differently depending on how you buy your shares.

If you use a stock transfer form, also known as a paper share transfer, you will pay stamp duty

If you buy stocks online, also known as electronic paperless share transactions, you pay Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT).

How does Stamp Duty on shares work?

You are charged 0.5% tax when you buy more than £1,000 worth of stocks and shares using a paper stock transfer form. The amount you pay is rounded up to the nearest £5.

The amount you are charged is based on how much you pay for your share and the way you pay.

Once you have bought your shares, you need to send your stock transfer form to HMRC for stamping along with your tax payment.

Visit gov.uk for more information on stamp duty

How does Stamp Duty Reserve Tax work?

Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT) is charged on shares bought electronically through the computerised register of shares and shareowners system (CREST).

The tax is taken automatically when you buy the shares, so you do not need to do anything else about your tax.

If you buy shares outside of CREST, known as 'off market' shares, you must still pay SDRT.

Visit gov.uk. for more information on SDRT

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